Governor Mark Sanford only wants to use the part of the stimulus package that he controls to pay down state debt- -an idea the federal government rejected. Now, some members on the Senate floor, like Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell of Charleston, say the governor should just take the money and be done with it because, in McConnell’s words, “it is what it is.”
“We’re stuck with the bill. It’s a terrible thing what we’re doing in this country with red ink. I don’t agree with the stimulus plan, but it defies common sense to me to get stuck with the bill and not get any benefits out of it,” says McConnell.
Those benefits include, he says, “We can make sure that Meals on Wheels is funded, we can make sure that regional mental health centers can get funded this year, we can make sure that trust funds are not raided.”
McConnell explains why he didn’t vote in favor of the Davis-Ryberg amendment that agreed to set money aside for state debt.
“What they didn’t tell people is that they raided $40 million in reserves out of the budget and control board. They didn’t tell people that they went into the lottery account and took $44 million that was to go to K-12 education and had to use that to pump into life scholarships because they didn’t have the money to fund there,” says McConnell.
McConnell says if the governor doesn’t take the money, other states will reap the benefits of money South Carolina will have to pay back regardless. And the reason the nation is in the trouble it’s in financially, according to McConnell:
“Because this country has failed to get off its addiction to oil, and what triggered the house of cards starting to collapse is when the price of gas went up to $4 a gallon, discretionary spending stopped, the economy started sliding, revenue started sliding, and then like dominos, it’s falling in,” says McConnell.